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Shades of Pinter and Beckett are affectionately retouched with dark humour, dynamic wordplay and a tension all Kubrick's.
Roman Polanski's second British film is a mean little absurdist comedy set on a remote Northumberland island; it's also one of the best and purest of all his works.
The A.V. Club
Cul-de-sac functions better as an affectionate goof on Waiting For Godot, enhanced by an unforgettable setting that naturally severs the trio from contact with the outside world.
Pleasence, in a role that requires him to run sideways most of the time with his head at a crooked angle, is hilarious and frightening as a man going mad, and the film has an eerie appeal.
Joseph Jon Lanthier
Cul-de-Sac remains a searing reminder that Roman Polanski’s idiosyncratic grasp of the human mind was once evinced theatrically, rather than through narrative ferocity.
TV Guide Magazine
Neat little chiller with Polanski honing his abilities as a director and standout performances from Pleasence, Stander, and Dorleac.
If the subject matter is bleak and bitterly serious, the tone throughout is darkly comic, while the precise imagery effortlessly conveys the tension, the claustrophobia, and the madness of the situation.
A flawed film to be sure, but one with flashes of inspiration, occasionally stunning visuals and a Shakespearean sense of claustrophobia.
As a study in kinky insanity, Cul-de-Sac creates a tingling atmosphere. This sags riskily at times when the director unturns the screws and does not keep control of his frequently introduced comedy.
The New York Times
Is Mr. Polanski endeavoring to tell us anything about life or crime or perversion in this complex and terminally morbid joke?If he is, I sure don't get it — except maybe that people are sick, that even good humor isn't funny and that social sterility is.
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